Taliban get nasty, attack a teenager for championing women’s education

Hemang Sharma

 

Fifteen year old Malala Yousafzai is currently out of danger, after struggling for her life under close medical supervision, in Pakistan.  She was shot in the head last week on her school bus by a Taliban member. Her crime?  Being a spokesperson for women’s education rights and an outspoken critic of the atrocities committed by the Taliban, against women in particular.

The Daily Mail reported last week that a member of Tehreek-E-Taliban, the branch of Taliban operating in the Swat Valley, Pakistan climbed onto the school bus and shot Malala in the head and in the neck. She was rushed to medical attention immediately. The Pakistani Taliban claimed full responsibility of the attack and didn’t fail to mention that Malala needed to be taught a lesson.

A spokesperson for TTP described his disgust while claiming the full responsibility of the incident on behalf of their organization, “she is a 'secular-minded lady’ and that this should serve as a warning for other young people like her.”

Malala is a celebrated activist in the country of Pakistan. She won a youth Peace Award for her work in the field of women’s rights, particularly in education. Her blogs about the importance of equality and education for women were applauded by the majority of people. Her status as an activist was elevated due to extended media coverage in the past few years. An NPR story claims that she was accustomed to numerous threats by Taliban groups, who didn’t like her progressive views and hated the fact that she inspired other young girls to believe in their right of education.

The assassination attempt brings out the ugly truth of Pakistan. As a nation, Pakistan has always struggled with its problem with women, particularly when it comes to protecting them from fundamentalists. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, a woman who throughout her administration managed to anger every single fundamentalist through her centre-left political artwork, was assassinated in broad daylight five years ago, in 2007.

To Pakistan’s credit, it was the first Muslim nation to elect a female head of the state, and that too as far back in 1988. A feat as glorifying as electing a woman to lead the nation, isn’t what many countries can brag about. Pakistan was a nation that was once flourishing and cared a little about equality of the sexes. But that, of course, was before their government decided to move so far to the right, into the land of religious extremism, is when this great nation started to have problems with women.

The War on Women over there is completely different. Birth control and abortion rights aren’t even the concerns.  Their women are more worried about basic education. To be able to attend the schools that are already there, but ones these girls are too intimidated to attend because of fundamentalist groups like Taliban who consider it laughable for a woman to be educated. The Telegraph reports that the Taliban don’t shy from blowing up girl’s school, terrorizing girls and forbidding them to leave their houses, and thus spilling blood on their candles of knowledge. The Afghan Taliban, fiercer than their Pakistani counterpart, often poison-gas girls’ schools.

Pakistan has 99 problems. Religious fanaticism is one of them. There is no separation of Church and State. The Church is the State. Or the Mosque is, at least for them.

Almost all of this nation’s troubles can be rooted back to the 1970s when their government got in bed with the extremists. Since then Pakistan has struggled. From hiding Osama Bin Laden in their compound, to letting bearded, grown-men annihilate young girls, and their hopes and dreams of becoming something, having an identity — it has been a tough relationship. The Pakistani government, and their military need to come down and nail these extremists hard. That includes groups like Jamat-Ud-Dawa – the fundraising wing of religious extremism, the haqqani network -another militant organization that is funding Anti-American sentiments in Pakistan.  Malala Yousafzai will survive, she will get up.

When she does, she should be given every chance to succeed, as much as any man. She could be the next Benazir Bhutto, which Bhutto is up to the government and people of Pakistan. Would they allow Malala to be like the Bhutto who was the honorable Prime Minister who worked tirelessly for peace and prosperity, or the Bhutto that got blown in front of thousands by religious fanatics?

 

Hemang Sharma

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